April 7, 1947 – On this day in Indiana Infamy, Herbert Richard Baumeister was born in Indianapolis to Herbert E. Baumeister and his wife Elizabeth. Almost 50 years later, he was posthumously identified as a serial killer believed to have been responsible for the deaths of at least a dozen men, some of whom he disposed of on his Westfield property.
Just the Facts: Hilma Marie Witte
Name: Hilma Marie Witte
Aliases: Hilma Marie Crist, Marie Witte
Born: April 20, 1948 – Pittsburgh
Claim to Infamy: Not only did Hilma Marie coerce her two impressionable teenage sons to murder for her, but the victims were their close family members. Then, as if that weren’t macabre enough, she convinced the boys- as well as her own mother – and a young associate to assist in the grisly disposal of the second victim’s body.
The horror began in Beverly Shores on September 1, 1981. Hilma wanted to be a widow who would inherit her husband’s estate rather than a working single mother, and she got her wish. At her behest, elder son Eric shot his abusive father, Paul, as he slept.
After what everyone – including police – believed to have been an unfortunate firearm accident, Paul’s stepmother Elaine generously welcomed the remaining family members into her nearby Trail Creek home. Unfortunately for Elaine, Hilma Marie wasn’t content for long and soon set her sights on the elderly woman’s life savings. When Eric refused to kill for her again, Hilma convinced her younger son, Butch, to do the dirty work. 16-year-old Butch killed his grandmother with a crossbow in January of 1984. Hilma decided it would be unwise to attempt to persuade police that the family had suffered a second deadly accident and that they should dismember the body instead. Using various instruments – including a hammer, chisel, deep fat fryer, saw, and microwave – the family then dismembered Elaine and disposed of her body in various ghastly ways.
Current Status: Both Eric and Butch pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and were released early in 1996 due to good behavior. Butch has since passed away, but Eric has expressed great remorse for his crimes.
Hilma’s mother, Margaret “Marcie” O’Donnell was sentenced to 6 years. She, too, died after serving time for her crimes.
Hilma Marie Witte was convicted of two counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, and attempt to murder. She is currently serving time in the Indiana Women’s Prison. According to the Department of Correction, her earliest possible release date is April 2027.
This Day in Infamy: The Death of A Serial Killer
March 6, 1994 – Convicted killer and Indiana native Larry William Eyler (41) died of complications related to AIDS in the infirmary of the Pontiac Correctional Center (IL). Two days after his death, Eyler’s defense attorney released a posthumous statement in which Eyler confessed to the murders of at least 21 young men. In the confession, he also alleged Robert David Little (52) of Terre Haute had been his accomplice in some of the killings, and was the sole person responsible for the death of Daniel Bridges. Little, an Indiana State University professor with whom Eyler had lived for seven years, was brought up on charges in connection with one of the murders but later acquitted. He then returned to teaching.
This Day in Infamy: The Meat Market Murder
February 26, 1934 – The body of Lloyd C. Gleason (40) was found in the basement of his Yorktown meat market by his sister, Pearl Jefferson. The butcher had been shot three times – once in the forehead, once behind the left ear, and once in the back of the head – and had bruises consistent with a beating. Additionally, his lower left leg and shoe had been severely burned. “A long-barrel .22 caliber pistol” was found nearby.
The victim’s son, James “Marvin” Gleason (21), was taken into custody the next day. Marvin admitted to ownership of the gun but initially denied having anything to do with his father’s death, despite saying the older man had been an abusive alcoholic and adulterer who had caused the family hardship. Marvin’s story changed a few hours later, however, when police found his bloodstained clothing.
This time, Marvin claimed he’d been in an altercation with his father over a bottle of whiskey, and the fight had culminated in the shooting. He also admitted to trying to dispose of his father in the furnace, but he’d had to abandon that part of his plan when he couldn’t lift the corpse high enough to clear the furnace door.
After Marvin confessed, his mother told reporters her son had previously been to a psychiatric clinic in Detroit. Dora Gleason also claimed a physician there had recommended committing Marvin to a sanitarium to cure his dementia praecox, a generic term used for schizophrenia at the time, but the family lacked the funds to do so. The young man, who had been awarded but did not accept a Rector Scholarship at Depauw University, stayed instead at his grandparents’ home after graduation.
Within days of Dora’s statement to the press, Marvin gave another confession, this time implicating his mother as an accessory. He claimed that he and his mother had “reached an understanding” that he would kill his father, and she’d given him the idea of cremating the body in the furnace. On March 5th, one week to the day after the death of her husband, Dora was arrested . A grand jury later failed to indict her though, and charges against her were dismissed.
The following May, Judge L. A. Guthrie ruled Marvin Gleason “mentally incapable of standing trial” and confined him to the hospital for the criminally insane at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, where he would remain for almost six years. After his release, he changed his name and went to stay with his mother, who had remarried.
In Their Own Words: The Delphi Murders, Mike Patty
“I imagine there was an opportunity for one or both to separate and try to make a break different ways. Those girls loved each other. They were good friends. Neither one of them left each other’s sides. Both those girls are heroes in my book.”
– Mike Patty
Nursing Home Resident Charged with Rape and Murder of 80-yr-old Hospice Patient
Last Wednesday, February 9th, 60-year-old Dwayne Anthony Freeman faced his initial court appearance in connection with the rape and murder of a fellow nursing home resident.
An employee of Homestead Healthcare Center entered the room of 80-yr-old Patricia Newnum in the early morning hours of February 2nd to distribute medication. It was then that another resident, Freeman, was discovered on top of Newnum. He appeared to be having sex with the hospice patient while holding a pillow over her face. When confronted, Freeman reportedly smelled of alcohol and “rambled incoherently.” He reacted violently when an empty bottle was found in his room.
Newnum was subsequently declared dead in her bed, and an autopsy later ruled her death a homicide. She had died from asphyxiation due to smothering.
According to prosecutors, Freeman’s story changed several times before he finally admitted to having intercourse with the victim but claimed it was consensual and initiated by Newnum. However, employees of the facility told police that before her death, Newnum was unable to move on her own and her ability to speak was limited. Freeman also had a history of speaking inappropriately to women during the three months he’d lived at the facility. Incredibly, he’d even told staff the night before the assault that he was “going to get me a woman tonight.”
An automatic not-guily plea was entered on Freeman’s behalf Wednesday, and a public defender was assigned to him. It’s unknown at this time if the facility will face negligence charges in connection with Newnum’s death. Local news station WTHR reports that the facility, located at 7465 Madison Avenue, faced more than $100,ooo in federal fines last year. Federal site Medicare.gov states it has received 26 complaints that resulted in citations against Homestead Healthcare Center within the last three years.
Dwayne Freeman is scheduled to appear in court again March 30th.
Breaking News: Criminal Mastermind Is Accused of Wearing Court-Ordered GPS Monitor to Commit Murder
An Indianapolis man is accused of murdering his childhood best friend in an argument over a woman. And, police say, he wore a court-ordered GPS monitor to the crime scene, documenting his presence.
According to reports, 29-year-old Andre Johnson was wearing a GPS bracelet due to a previous criminal conviction when he drove to Indy’s Carriage House East Apartments last Sunday night. After lying in wait for two hours, Johnson allegedly ambushed his childhood best friend Marlin Kiser, also 29, firing at least eight shots at the man before fleeing. Kiser, a father of three, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Unfortunately for Johnson, IMPD detectives were able to locate security camera footage showing the shooter leaving the scene in a 2006 Ford F-150 truck that they were later able to tie to him. Even more unfortunately for the accused, he apparently failed to take his own GPS monitor into account when committing the murder. Police say the data provided by the monitor proves he was in the area for two hours prior to the shooting.
Johnson is being held without bond in the Marion County Jail. Although he’s been booked on a preliminary charge of murder, formal charges are still pending.
Update: The Murder of Damari Perry
The mother of Damari Perry, a six-year-old whose body was recently discovered in Gary, appeared in court last Wednesday. Jannie M. Perry, of North Chicago, was charged with first-degree murder, concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice. Her bond was set at $5 million.
Two of the child’s siblings have also been charged in connection with the crime. 20-year-old Jeremiah Perry has been charged with aggravated battery, concealing a homicide and obstruction of justice. An unidentified juvenile sibling also faces unspecified charges.
According to Lake County prosecutors, on December 29, 2021, Damari’s mother told relatives that he needed punished. The little boy was consequently forced into a cold shower for an extended period of time, after which he vomited and became unresponsive. His body was then wrapped in a trash bag, and thermal burns indicate someone attempted to burn him. Finally, Damari’s charred corpse was taken to Gary and left near an empty house before the family falsely reported him missing. An autopsy later determined his cause of death was hypothermia.
Perhaps most tragically, the responsibility for Damari’s death reaches far beyond those who stand accused. It has been revealed that Jannie Perry lost custody of her four other children due to allegations of domestic violence in 2014. Because the case remained open when Damari was born on December 30, 2015, he was placed into foster care at the time.
Perry regained custody of her children in 2017.
Breaking News: Man Killed Former Lover After His Heavy Drinking Became “A Point of Contention”
A Michigan City man allegedly caused the death of a woman he described as his best friend because she didn’t approve of his heavy drinking.
According to the Michigan City PD, Thomas Holifield (59) and his victim Pamela Keltz (64) were once romantically involved, but even after that phase of their relationship ended, the two remained friends. Eventually, Holifield went on to rent space from Ms. Keltz, becoming her roommate. But their new situation was far from ideal.
Holifield told officers Keltz disapproved of his heavy drinking. The matter had become “a point of contention” between them, and he felt she “disrespected” him because of it. It was then, using reasoning skills that were absolutely not in any way impaired by the aforementioned heavy drinking, that Holifield decided the best way to handle his problem would be to kill Pamela Keltz.
In his initial attempts to poison her, Holifield put eye drops in the plastic Taco Bell cup Keltz habitually drank soda from, but they did not have the effect he desired. She suffered hallucinations and diarrhea but then recovered.
Instead of reconsidering the plan to kill his “best friend,” Holifield decided he just needed a stronger poison. Beginning in May, he started adding windshield washer fluid, which contained the poison methanol, directly to Keltz’s 2-liter bottles of soda. She became ill again, this time severely enough to go to the hospital. Keltz was treated and sent home – right back into the hands of the man who was covertly killing her.
Holifield continued adding more and more washer fluid to her drinks until his roommate was again forced to go to the hospital. She was in the intensive care unit at a Michigan City hospital on May 30th of last year when Holifield contacted police and confessed to poisoning her. Although doctors revised her treatment, unfortunately they were unable to save her. Pamela Keltz was removed from life support and died two days later.
Despite an almost-empty gallon of Champion windshield washer fluid, a funnel still setting on top of the bottle, and the residue of a blue liquid in Keltz’s Taco Bell cup (all of which were found during a police search of the residence) and his previous confession, Holifield pleaded not guilty when charged with Keltz’s murder.
His next appearance in court is set for January 20th.
Breaking News: The Tragic Death of Damari Perry
A six-year-old child has been found dead, and his mothers and siblings have been charged in connection with the crime.
Damari Perry, of North Chicago, was initially reported missing just before 9 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 5, more than 24 hours after he had supposedly last been seen. According to the story his mother, Jannie Perry (38), told her local FOX affiliate, “He was out with his sister at a play date. She had a cocktail. I guess someone put something in her drink. She ended up falling asleep. When she woke up, my son was gone. When she questioned the girl about where my son was the girl said she didn’t know. When she came home, I reported him missing.”
Authorities called in the FBI, hoping to find Damari alive. Instead, in the early morning hours of January 8, they found his lifeless body across the state line, near an unoccupied house on Van Buren Street in Gary, Indiana. Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart then released a statement saying the story the family told is “completely false.” The prosecutor additionally stated, “He (Damari) was placed into a cold shower for an extended period of time, held there by family members at the direction of the mother. At some point, he became unresponsive, vomited and died. Additional accusations have been made by relatives and neighbors that the child was punched and denied food.
Damari’s mother, Jannie, has been charged with first-degree murder, concealment of a homicide and obstruction of justice. She is due in court Monday.
Jeremiah Perry, his 20-year-old brother, is being held on $3 million bond. He has been charged with aggravated battery, concealing a homicide and obstruction of justice in his brother’s death. He was already on probation for a weapons violation at the time of his arrest.
A third family member, only identified as an underage sibling, is also facing charges in juvenile court.
The family’s other minor children are now in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services. DCFS has confirmed that they’ve had “prior contact” with the Perrys.